SSBS – Bakugan Battle Brawlers: Episode 2 – Masquerade Ball

Plot: A new mysterious masked brawler named Masquerade is going around and taking the Bakugan of those he defeats. Dan decides to challenge him to stop him once and for all, but the game changes when Drago goes rogue and Masquerade reveals the reality behind the game.

Breakdown: Alright, Bakugan – we got off to a bad start last time. Let’s see if we can mend some bridges in episode 2.

We finally learn another Bakugan term. The little marble things the players use are called Bakugan Balls…..Pbbbbttttt *gigglesnicker* Balls. Heehehehe. Anyway, this episode starts with Runo bitching and moaning that other people are getting their Bakugan Balls…..pbbbbttt….*cough* to talk, but she can’t.

A mysterious masked boy who calls himself Masquerade challenges Runo to a Bakugan Brawl that is completely skipped over. The only shot we see of it is Runo screaming in terror as a Grim-Reaper-Like Bakugan attacks.

Annoying girl character’s first match is one that is 1) so unimportant that they don’t even show it and 2) is one she loses horribly. *lip smack* Yup. That’s pretty much what I expect of female characters in shounen gaming anime at this point.

Meanwhile, Dan starts showing off his amazing talking Bakugan to his classmates, even though, if the last scene of the last episode was any indication, many many many people have also heard their Bakugan talking so this shouldn’t be a big thing to clamor over. However, I guess Dan just happens to be in a school where, despite the fact that everyone seems to be a brawler, only his Bakugan has reportedly talked.

Dan can’t get Drago to talk, disappointing his classmates, and the topic quickly skews to Dan freaking out because he didn’t remember to do his English homework. Their teacher comes in and I guess she’s meant to be some super imposing and frightening teacher because literally every student fumbles around the classroom screaming trying to get back to their seats when she enters the room.

Legit question – has anyone seriously had a teacher like that? This is a common trope yet I don’t know any teachers who strike such fear into their students. Hardasses, sure, but no terrifying teachers from hell.

She doesn’t even look scary. She looks like a stereotypical librarian.

Drago ends up at her feet in the confusion, and she demands to see Dan after class for bringing ‘marbles’ to school.

Blah blah unimportant school stuff, parroting the conflict in the other realm blah – hey wait, back up! Dan has Drago back!? Huh!? He’s still in class!….You’re telling me this terribly frightening teacher that has all of these kids shuddering in horror just by thinking about her is so easy-going that, despite being angry enough about the toy to demand that Dan stay after class to talk about it, she instantly gives it back to him?

Maybe I did have worse teachers than I thought because so many teachers would take stuff and either not give it back until the end of school or even keep it until the end of the semester. And you didn’t even have to be playing with it half the time – Just knowing you had it was enough to get it taken away.

So of course Dan is going to screw it up. He takes out Drago in the middle of a lecture to take a toothbrush and scrub it because it got kinda dusty on the floor. Drago doesn’t like it, so he opens up and demands he stop.

Dan jumps up in surprise and tries to rally his friends to prove that Drago can talk, but before he can do much of anything, his teacher stops him and says, due to his outburst, he’s going to get an injunction for the rest of the semester, which devastates Dan. He even goes so far as to bitch at Drago later saying that his life is ruined now because of the injunction and completely blames Drago since he wouldn’t talk.

in·junc·tion

noun: injunction; plural noun: injunctions
1. an authoritative warning or order.
2. law
a judicial order that restrains a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another, or that compels a person to carry out a certain act, e.g., to make restitution to an injured party.

Sooooooooooooooooo…..Dan’s life is ruined….either because he has a warning all semester….or because he’s being restricted from either screwing around with Bakugan balls (hehehehehehehe) in school or from making outbursts in class. Uh……huh…..I know kids overdramatize stuff, but this is probably one of the most overdramatized statements I’ve ever heard.

Also, Drago’s at fault for this?! Really!? You’re the one who, despite being supposedly scared to death of your teacher (and, hey, she didn’t do anything about the fact that he didn’t do his homework either. What kind of benign ‘evil’ teacher are you trying to pawn off?) decided it would be a good idea to start scrubbing your Bakugan ball (alright, this is just getting silly) in the middle of class just because it got a little mussed up on the floor. Then you decided it would be a good idea to burst out in the middle of the lecture trying to get your friends to listen to Drago, who didn’t even have a chance to try and speak after that.

Not to mention that the first time you tried to get it to speak, you were basically giving him commands like a dog. You’re a douche, Dan…..Hm…If my nickname for Ash from Pokemon when he’s being an idiot is Dumbash, I hereby dub thee DanDaDouche.

Dan logs on to the Internet to chat with his friends, and Runo instantly bursts out screaming at him, blaming him for her loss.

Every frame of animation that includes her face and every second of hearing her voice makes me hate her even more. What’s even worse is, while everyone else is mispronouncing Bakugan as Back-oo-gahn, she’s mispronouncing it as Bah-koo-gan (like can). For the record, it’s supposed to be ‘Bah-koo-gahn.’ Alice explains that Masquerade is going all around challenging many brawlers and he takes their Bakugan if they lose to him. Runo pathetically admits that he took her Haos Terrorclaw.

I know these types of shows get flak for taking little toys and games too seriously…but if this is our main conflict for the episode and it’s vital to take down Masquerade and stop him from taking Bakugan…maybe make Runo seem more upset about her lost Bakugan. She’s upset at first just because she seems annoyed, then she seems fine and even somewhat happy, then she paints on a frowny face and says her Terrorclaw was taken.

Who cares? I don’t care. I’ve never even seen Terrorclaw or any indication that she gave a shit about it. I especially wish someone else’s Bakugan had been taken away if we’re meant to be sympathetic. Runo, so far, is the most annoying character on the show, going neck to neck with Dan.

Oh and, yeah, how the hell is Dan in any way responsible for her loss? She never once explains her reasoning with this and doesn’t even seem that upset about it after a few lines. He doesn’t ask her either. Who starts screaming insinuations like that without even trying to explain their reasoning?

“That guy over there murdered this man!”

“Why do you think that?”

“Just cuz.”

“Skip the trial and lock his ass up, boys.”

“Next time on Law and Whatever: Really Short Case Unit”

Dan decides to take down Masquerade, which makes Alice and Julie say, I am in no way kidding or exaggerating,

Julie: “Oh Dan, I wish I could hug you!”

Alice: *sultry voice* “Me too.”

Okay, I think we can all agree that we’ve skidded past ‘Gary Stu’ vibes and are firmly in the territory of ‘self-insert jerk-off material’ All that over a promise of a challenge? And what was up with Alice’s voice just then? You’d think he promised something dirtier. Even the mood-a-minute Runo yells out “Awesome!” when he says this.

Then it’s like this scene was forgotten as they are suddenly surprised that Dan is willing to risk his own Bakugan in the matches. They share the news that Masquerade is currently in first place in the worldwide Bakugan rankings while Dan is supposedly still at 117. So….why his friends were so excited at his promise makes even less sense now. Especially given that, if he’s in first place, that must mean he’s also defeated Shun.

Also, is Masquerade traveling the world extremely quickly? To have gone from an unknown to number one in the worldwide rankings in that amount of time seems ridiculous.

Of course he owns/plays a damn electric guitar. Is he the star on the football team too?

In order to lure Masquerade to a match, Dan decides to create a challenge vlog. However, Drago calls him out on how pathetic he seems trying to act tough.

He explains that Bakugan isn’t merely a game and, even though he’s talking to a sentient marble from another dimension, Dan acts like the idiot he is and, despite stating last episode that he thinks Bakugan isn’t just a game……acts like it is just a game. Then we get our big commercial break dundundunnn moment where Drago repeats that it’s not just a game….which is pointless to make dramatic because we as an audience already knew that.

Dan’s challenge has been posted and Masquerade seems more than happy to meet him.

The next day, Dan heads to the meeting spot only to find Shuji, who wants to challenge him again. Oh goodie gumdrops, a three-peat of stupid pointless nonsense that is not entertaining at all. Even Dan straight out says this match is a waste of his time. No, Dan. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Just to get this out of the way, today Shuji’s using Ventus attribute cards, because why not?

You better hope this is a lazy way of teaching us more about the game.

My sentiments exactly, Dan.

They open the time-space field thing and then instantly cut to Shuji saying Dan defeated his Robotallian and Gargonoid. And I mean they instantly cut. Sliced clean through. No transition. Just ‘Let’s brawl!’ followed immediately with Shuji’s recap.

So, in summary, they’re admitting fully that this match is a pointless waste of time….and then they skip half of it.

Bite me.

Dan summons Drago, who is now able to move more freely outside of his ball. However, when Dan uses a Fire Wall ability card on Drago, he…I guess refuses to battle because he says he doesn’t take orders and his use of the ability card was useless anyway, even if they don’t really explain why. Shuji also explains that Fire attributes are useless against Wind, even though he’s defeated two of them already.

Shuji summons his Falconeer (at least we’re getting more monster names today) and uses an ability card that allows Falconeer to jump over the Fire Wall. So, Fire Wall’s not so much useless against Wind attribute cards as it is susceptible to that specific ability card. Gotcha.

Can someone please explain to me why Fire is trumped by Wind? I get that wind blows out fires, but air also feeds fire. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Fire to be weak to….Oh….I dunno…..Water? Is that too obvious or what?

With the type advantage, Falconeer gets powered up enough to take on Drago, but Drago tries to reason with Falconeer. He says the only reason Falconeer is fighting is because he’s corrupted with negative energy, but Falconeer won’t listen and bites him on the neck.

In retaliation, Drago constricts the Fire Wall around them, and, according to Dan, smothers the wind and defeats Falconeer…..Uh, no. You don’t smother wind. You smother FIRE. Fire needs air to live. If you rob it of oxygen IE smother it, you extinguish the flame.

I’d say what you just did there, if logic can even be applied, is that the Fire Wall ate up all of the air and made it so Falconeer, being Wind attribute, could not exist any longer.

I just pulled that out of my ass. I have no clue what just happened. Dan/Drago cheated as far as I can see.

Despite not being the one to give the game-winning order, Dan still smirks, flicks his nose with his thumb like a trademark douchecanoe and brags that he won the match…I guess because he beat three of Shuji’s monsters? Screw it, he cheated.

Okay, wait. Let me calm down. Let’s at least check the Wiki to see if there’s something I missed that makes this legit. I don’t want to shout out ‘cheating!’ just because I don’t understand the game.

“Mysteriously, Drago gains the upper-hand possibly due to Fire Wall. But even with its effect active, Drago would still be 10 Gs short of victory. Drago would have needed to boost the power of Fire Wall in some way for this victory, but it is unrevealed how this is done. Nevertheless, Falconeer gets wiped out by Drago’s squeezing fire wall attack.”

Oh, okay, so he totally cheated. Cheers.

I hate you.

After Shuji literally runs home crying to his mommy (and, no, I’m not using ‘literally’ wrong. He legit says, while running off crying “I’m going home to mommy!”) Masquerade shows up and they start their match. Masquerade starts by throwing some weird Darkus card out which activates without proclaiming what it is or what it does.

Dan calls out his Serpenoid while Masquerade calls out Reaper. Dan’s little watch thing explains that Reaper is stronger than Serpenoid with 370g over 320g, but Dan activates his unexplained gate card which powers up Serpenoid to 620g. Masquerade activates the ability card, Dimension 4, which, while they don’t explain what it does, seems to negate the effect of gate cards and reduces Serpenoid back to 320g.

Reaper attacks Serpenoid and….sucks him into a different dimension I guess.

Next, Dan summons a Minotaur-esque creature while Masquerade summons another Reaper. They try to amp up the animation in that weird way again as Dan uses an ability card, which I can’t discern due to Dan’s VA’s inability to enunciate and the poor sound mixing. Like every other one of Dan’s ability cards, it’s a bunch of fire. Like many other of Dan’s cards, it’s never explained what this does.

Masquerade uses an ability card, Double Dimension, which negates the effects of Dan’s ability card. Reaper then defeats the Minotaur thing, sending it to another dimension. Masquerade then mentions that the card he played at the start is a Doom card. When played, it overpowers all monsters and sends the defeated ones into the Doom Dimension and can never return…..

………………The….Doom Dimension. Are you kidding me? How did this not reach even minor league meme status? The DOOM DIMENSION. That’s like something a four year old would make up.

……Or…like….son of a bitch – we actually have another Shadow Realm? Are you for real? Someone melded the Shadow Realm with the Seal of Oricalcos card and threw it into this show. Brilliant.

Drago recognizes the…..Doom Dimension. Ya know, between the Bakugan Balls and the Doom Dimension, I’m getting in more than my quota of giggling. Anyhoo, he states that the Doom Dimension is basically Bakugan….hell? Purgatory? They go there when they di–”meet their eternal demise.” Enraged, Dan asks why Masquerade is trying to ruin the game of Bakugan and Masquerade explains, again, that this is not merely a game – every match is very real.

The match continues with Dan sending out another gate card, summoning Drago and Masquerade summoning another Reaper….or the same Reaper. I don’t know. They fight and, again, Drago tries to reason with Reaper. However, Reaper doesn’t want to talk and doesn’t care about what’s happening in Vestroia. He only cares about the immense power he’ll supposedly get by teaming up with a human and battling like the soldier he is.

Reaper, being stronger I guess, attacks Drago, but Dan opens his gate card, Fire Storm, which powers him up to something more powerful I guess. Right before Dan is able to use another ability card to supposedly win, Drago activates something called Ultimate Boost on his own which ends the battle suddenly.

Okay, he’s where I get confused even with the Wiki holding my hand. Masquerade states that he spared Drago for some reason and I’m left to assume that he did….something which ended the match and saved Drago from himself. Why? I don’t know. However, the Wiki states that Drago was so powerful that he destroyed the battlefield and instantly ended the match because of it. I’m more inclined to believe the Wiki, but that just leaves me utterly confused as to what they mean by the dialogue.

Masquerade explains that Bakugan involves many dimensions and powers that could destroy the world. The only way to save the world is for Dan to defeat him.

Oh come on! Two episodes in and we’re already at a point where the fate of the world rests on a kid’s ability to play a game with marbles and trading cards? Get bent.

Oh well, at least Dan technically got defeated.

Wiki – “Conclusion
Battle is interrupted and ends in a TIE.”

Oh, go to hell! He was down by two! Even though they haven’t explained the criteria for winning in the actual show yet (yes, really) I finally broke down and looked up the rules to the damn game, which states that the winner is the first to capture three Gate Cards….Oh sorry. The rules of the anime version are actually changed from the real life game. That makes everything much less confusing /s

In the anime, it’s the first to defeat three Bakugan. Dan lost twice and even in the end, the Wiki states that Reaper wasn’t killed before the battlefield was destroyed so he didn’t even get one Bakugan defeated. Is this like calling a draw in Monopoly if I’m nearly bankrupt and I decide to kick the board to the floor? Why did Drago trigger this anyway? It wasn’t a particularly emotional or intense moment, even after they explained the super scary Doom Dimension.

Anyway, Masquerade leaves, Dan proclaims that he’ll beat Masquerade and the episode ends.

——————————–

I will admit that this episode has more card and monster names than the first episode and I learned a tiny bit more of how the game is played, I think, but I should mention, as you probably figured out, anything of merit I learned was read from the Wiki. Whoever wrote detailed play-by-plays for each Bakugan Brawl in every episode for the Wiki deserves a fresh pan of cinnamon buns.

Also, I’m going to try to turn a blind eye to what the Wiki says since I’m trying to follow along as a regular watcher of the show. No one should need to read supplemental material to understand half of what’s going on in a shounen gaming anime. It just should not happen.

Everything else about this episode is mostly garbage. Stuff with Runo? Pointless garbage I don’t care about because I care nothing for Runo, nor am I given a reason to. Plus, the scene was so short it’s hard to care in the first place.

Stuff with Dan’s teacher? Don’t care. Also, I learned that this was also completely pointless because this character, according to her bio, is never seen again and the year long detention (She specifically said “Injunction,” Wiki, but your explanation makes more sense) that Dan got, the one that ‘ruined his life’ is never brought up or enforced. Whoopee.

The battle against Shuji is entirely pointless – not just because it’s a predictable waste of time against a character who has already been beaten easily twice already, but also because Dan and Drago cheated. It’s shameless filler that they deserve to be punched in the face for.

The battle against Masquerade isn’t even interesting. He uses the same monster three times in a row, basically the same tactic twice in a row and there’s little in regards to excitement. The only entertaining aspect was the silly name of the Doom Dimension.

Drago’s final stand came out of nowhere and the finale was ridiculous. Randomly triggering something within yourself that makes you so powerful that the field gets destroyed and forced a draw? If that’s even what really happened. Give me a break.

Why did Masquerade even leave? No time for a rematch? Why does Dan seem so devastated by this? He doesn’t seem to have any emotional bond with what’s going on yet, but he falls to his knees and yells that he’ll beat Masquerade.

I don’t even care about the Vestroia stuff at this point.

Another note is that the Wiki states Dan nearly lost his Bakugan in that match but, since he didn’t technically lose, he kept them I guess. Despite the fact that both Masquerade and Drago said that once a Bakugan is in that dimension, they never come out.

There’s nothing to care about here, and I don’t even get any mindless action fun out of it because even that’s bland and boring. Get your shit together, Bakugan.

Rating: 1/10

Next episode, Dan is confronted by a new recruit of Masquerade’s, Ricky Maru. Oh excuse me, that’s supposed to be Rikimaru. Is it a law of dubbed kids anime to not pronounce Japanese words and names correctly? Also, Dan cleans Drago with a toothbrush again.

….Previous Episode

Yami Shibai 3 (full) Review

ntafyyd

Plot: A little boy drawing on a slide presents us with tales of demons and monsters.

Breakdown: Well, now we’re at Yami Shibai 3, the season most people seem to hate with a passion, for some reason. Nearly every comment I saw about this season was slamming it in some way.

People ranking the seasons always put this one last or called it terrible. The comments on the individual episodes called the stories stupid, boring and plain not scary.

I will admit, the sudden change in format and the seeming change in subject matter was a bit difficult to deal with. However, is it really on the lowest rung of the ladder for this franchise?

Episode 1 – Lend it to Me: 8/10 A creepy little story with a successful jump scare at the end. In hindsight, the monster looks a tiny bit silly, but it’s only on screen for a few seconds and it’s not that bad.

Episode 2 – Tunnel: 9.5/10 I called this episode the scariest one of the series so far, and I would probably say that statement still stands up even after watching the rest of the series. Successful jump scares, creepy atmosphere, freaky imagery – it’s just a really effective episode.

Episode 3 – Rat: 6.5/10 The first ‘meh’ entry of the season, I’m not that freaked out by rats, the husband is a complete ass, and the final imagery is a little silly. It’s a bit squicky, but doesn’t really warrant anything above an ‘okay’.

Episode 4 – The Noisy Hospital Room: 7/10 Creepy setting with a couple of decent scares, but ultimately disappointing with somewhat silly visuals.

Episode 5 – The Museum of Taxidermy: 6.5/10 Another creepy setting with some nice atmosphere, but ultimately predictable and kinda meh.

Episode 6 – “That Side” Festival: 6/10 A mixed bag in regards to freaky imagery, but not really that scary and has a fairly sad ending.

Episode 7 – Behind: 5/10 This one is just completely ruined by the visuals, which are cartoony and laughable. The sad part is that the actual story is fairly strong, but the imagery just makes it fail.

Episode 8 – The Empress Doll: 8/10 This one had so much going for it. Great atmosphere, creepy environment, freaky visuals and creative ideas, but it is marred very badly by the BOO ending.

Episode 9 – The Fourth Man: 4/10 Fitting that this episode receives a 4 rating. This episode has a decent enough set up, but it’s predictable from start to finish, the visuals aren’t that creepy, the monsters are very easy to avoid and the ending is cheap.

Episode 10 – Merry-Go-Round: 7/10 Very effective in its setting and atmosphere with some pretty freaky moments, this one also just ends up being silly in the end. And I mean really silly. Despite the silly ending, this was a very memorable episode that made something unique out of itself instead of relying on clowns like I was worried it would do.

Episode 11 – Cuckoo: 4/10 Rating given mostly for atmosphere and buildup, this isn’t scary at all, is barely interesting in its story and ends up being pretty silly. Plus, I really believe that grandma is a bitch. She must’ve known what that clock really was, yet she just lets her granddaughter get caught up in it.

Episode 12 – Water: 2.5/10 About as interesting and creative as its name – this episode is milk toast at best and silly at worst.

Episode 13 – Drawing: 9/10 The best season finale of all three seasons, and a very well-written and composed tie-up to the story of the little boy who has taken over the narrator’s job this season. The actual story itself is a little predictable once you get into it and the visuals aren’t fantastically scary, but it’s a great entry in this series and really makes up for the narrator’s absence, especially the absolute end.

Overall (Rounded Up) – 6.5/10 Though, to be technically fair, this season beat out YS2’s raw score by about .2 during calculation.

Additional Information and Notes: Yami Shibai 3 was directed by Takashi Taniguchi and Tomohisa Ishikawa, and was written by Hiromu Kumamoto. It was produced by ILCA and is currently licensed in the US by Sentai Filmworks.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2016

Recommended Audience: The Museum of Taxidermy is pretty much the worst you get in terms of gore, and even that’s not too bad. Typical scary situations and whatnot. 7+